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Japanese automakers still commit to China

By Lu Nengneng and Fu Chenghao (Shanghai Daily)

08:55, November 23, 2012

JAPANESE carmakers continued to show their commitment to China although their sales suffered severely as Chinese consumers boycotted Japanese goods due to a territorial dispute between the countries.

"There is no change in Toyota's development plan in China," Dong Changzheng, executive vice president of Toyota (China) Investment Co stressed at the 10th China International (Guangzhou) Automobile Exhibition yesterday, which saw the strongest participation of Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus in the event's history.

Toyota's China sales plunged 44 percent in October from a year earlier and 40 percent in September following the nationwide anti-Japanese protests amid the Diaoyu Islands dispute.

"As you all know, we and our Chinese partners are trying to pull through some temporary difficulties," said Hiroji Onishi, a senior managing officer of Toyota.

Running until December 2, the auto show which opened yesterday in the capital of Guangdong Province is the last chance for Toyota and other Japanese carmakers to resume their suspended sales efforts in China and regain showroom traffic this year after the row dented their sales drastically.

Besides introducing 20 new models to the Chinese market in the next five years, Toyota will also deepen research and development efforts.

The automaker will establish joint-venture brands with its Chinese partners FAW Group and GAC Group respectively next year, and start making CVT gearboxes at a plant now being built in Changshu, Jiangsu Province in 2014. Toyota is also building a R&D center there and will use the test circuits for new energy cars next year, said Onishi.

Nissan, which has the highest sales exposure to China among all the Japanese carmakers, displayed its Venucia E30, the first electric vehicle set to be mass produced, at the event yesterday.

Scheduled for production in 2015, the model will first participate in pilot projects held by the local governments of major cities like Guangzhou and Dalian in Liaoning Province to promote eco-friendly driving.

The Venucia is a China-only brand co-developed with Dongfeng Motor Co,

Ren Yong, vice president of Dongfeng Motor Co and deputy managing director of Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co, said the joint venture's accumulated sales in China have exceeded 4 million units since its set-up in 2003.

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